Jo was ten years old and the youngest of seven brothers. He was the best-looking and kindest of all his brothers. His father loved him the most. His father had had Jo when he was old and Jo being the kind little boy that he was always made time to read to the old man, or cook him something he liked. Jo was the only one of the sons that hadn’t been sent off to boarding school. His brothers instead of getting a decent education and good breeding had instead learnt to be boars and decadent. Their father regretted having ever allowed them to leave his tutelage.
The old man had not been a good boy himself growing up though because all of his sons had different mothers. The old man had only married one though. Jo’s mother. Jo’s mother had been the old man’s high school sweetheart and they’d been reunited shortly when they were both old. But happiness didn’t last long for them even with the miracle of little baby Jo. Jo’s mom died from a swing accident when Jo was only a toddler. And because Jo was the child of the only woman he had ever loved. The old man cherished Jo all the more.
Jo’s seven brothers were jealous that Jo was the favorite, and all of them save one really hated him. Because his brothers were much older than him and couldn’t stand having him around most of the time Jo spent most of the time with his father. The only brother he would bond with occasionally was Edwin, who was the second oldest and would sometimes play with him.
One day the old man had a heart attack and died. All his sons gathered together for the funeral and we’re eager to find out what had been written in the will. Only Jo truly mourned for his father and Edwin was the only one who comforted him as he cried. After the funeral the old man’s attorney read the old man’s will which left everything to Jo and gave the other sons a small amount to jumpstart their lives. The other sons were allowed to stay at the mansion until Jo was eighteen and then Jo would decide whether he wanted his brothers to stay or kick them out.
The brothers were livid but because Jo was still a minor they were assigned as his guardians. Simon, the eldest immediately moved Jo from the biggest room in the mansion to the servant’s quarters, determined to find a way to get the inheritance away from Jo. He took Jo out of the private school he went to everyday and took him to a local home-schooling unit that Jo had to walk past bogs and swamps to reach. Edwin tried to convince Simon that treating Jo like that would just cause problems but all the brothers supported Simon and started to bully Jo to make a point.
Edwin realized that he couldn’t do much except make sure that Jo ate everyday (because they would purposefully not give him food) and that he would sneak behind the other brother’s back and help Jo with the hardest chores (they fired all the housekeepers and gardeners and expected Jo to maintain everything.)
One day the executor of the estate was visiting so Simon temporarily put Jo back in his old room and pretended to be nice to him during the time that the executor was there. Jo didn’t expose his brothers, he was just too good-natured to do that and pretended that everything was fine. When the executor took the train back to his town , the moment that the train was out of sight Simon slapped Jo.
“Don’t think this means anything you piece of trash,” Simon told him menacingly. Jo just sniffled, rubbed his cheek and adjusted the scarf he was wearing. It was winter and he’d had a cold for a few days. As the brothers travelled back home in the SUV Quinton, the second youngest brother and the one that held the most animosity towards Jo pushed Jo out of the vehicle as it was running.
“Walk home you piece of trash!” Quinton called after him. Edwin immediately protested and tried to get Edgar, the fifth brother, to stop the car. Edgar refused, amused by Quinton’s actions. When they reached home Edwin immediately jumped out, determined to take another car and get Jo, but he screamed the moment he saw that Jo’s scarf had got stuck as Quinton had thrown him out and Jo lay dangling and bruised at the side of the car.
The brothers didn’t know what to do or how to hide that they had killed Jo. Edwin immediately wanted to go to the police but the brothers threatened that they would tell the police that it was him that had thrown Jo out of the car. So Simon devised a master plan and they pretended that Jo had gone to a boarding school in Switzerland and was doing really well.
“Now we won’t have to worry about him chucking us out,” Simon explained and Edwin thought he was the devil incarnate. The other brother’s dumped Jo’s body in the swamp. Edwin couldn’t stand what they were doing and drove away as they disposed of the body.
As Edwin drove, he cried for his little brother. Through the tears he didn’t see a redlight and a truck coming from his rear. His car was hit so hard it flew through the air and rolled over multiple times. The other brothers only found out about the accident when they got home and received a frantic phonecall from a neighbor that had been contacted because they couldn’t reach them. Edwin was comatose and needed assistance breathing. The doctor told his brothers that there was a ten percent chance of Edwin living. Since Edwin was no impediment in getting their inheritance they told the doctor to keep him on life support. They didn’t need two brothers dead and at least if he was in a coma he couldn’t snitch on them.
The brothers went on to enjoy the riches their father left as freely as they could without arousing the suspicion of the executor. Every one of the brothers had a passion and a hobby that they could now fully pursue without financial worries.
It was winter and there was lake near the swamp. The lake had recently frozen over so the twins of the brothers, Marcus and Friedman would practice figure-skating. They were really good at it and competed at a collegiate level. They bought themselves the latest ice-skates and gear and would skate everyday as the sun rose. The week after Edwin’s accident they went out to skate early in the morning as usual. Halfway to the lake, Friedman noticed that there was a fresh pair of footprints in the snow that looked like a child’s. He brushed it off. They got to the lake and Friedman looked around and didn’t see anyone else with them. They started to warm up. The lake was frozen over enough that they could go close to the middle with no issue. Marcus was working on his quads, his Salchow needed some improvement and he kept falling instead of landing it. As he fell for the hundredth time instead of getting up again he screamed and tried to crawl away from something. Friedman rushed over to him.
“I saw Jo in the water he was trying to talk to me!” Marcus explained through gasps to Friedman. Friedman realized that it was time to go. Things were getting weird. As he helped his twin up and they turned to head back to the shore. A figure appeared before them. They gasped.
Friedman and Marcus’s bodies were recovered in the afternoon when reports that the ice at the lake had cracked. Friedman and Marcus hadn’t managed to get to the shore on time and fallen into the lake. The police though couldn’t explain the looks of horror on their faces.
Quinton was really disconcerted by the deaths of the twins. Of all the brothers he had been closest to them. After their funeral he needed some comfort and went over to the house of a girl who had a serious crush on him. She made him his favorite dishes and made his bed warm (in her house) for him while he was there. Quinton had no intention of continuing anything with her after this but it was nice having someone while he was grieving.
Quinton had always had night terrors ever since he was very young. The night terror demon would always look at him from a distance observing him. That night the night terror demon visited him again but it walked straight up to his bed where the girl slept next to him. Quinton’s eyes widened as the demon’s tongue stuck out and hissed at him. Quinton tried to rebuke the demon but no sound would come from his mouth. The demon then kneed him in the stomach and put him a half Nelson.
The next morning, the heartbroken girl woke up with Quinton cold next to her. By the time they reached hospital the doctors confirmed him dead. Apparently from a heart attack in the middle of the night. They concluded that the suddenly death of the twins had hit Quinton too hard.
Edgar and Simon were suddenly at their wits end. What was happening? “It’s because of Jo,” Edgar mumbled to Simon when they were left alone with Quinton’s body. Simon didn’t think so. “C’mon Simon, you don’t think this is all a coincidence…what if we’re cursed?” Simon hushed Edgar.
“According to everyone. Jo is at a Swiss boarding school. Kapiche?” Edgar agreed solemnly. Edgar decided to stay at the hospital while Simon drove back home to get some sleep. It had been a long day. Simon was driving the same vehicle they had driven when Jo had been offed.
As Simon drove back home he noticed how early it was for it to be that dark outside. By the time he was halfway home the sun had completely set and he had to put on his headlights. As he was a quarter way home passing through the swamps he saw a child step in front of his vehicle. He swerved to avoid hitting the child and veered off the road. His vehicle nearly hit a tree but he managed to stop the car before it could make contact. His head hit the dashboard a little hard, confusing him a little. As Simon lifted his head he saw the same child looking at him in the distance. Simon felt anger rise up in him. It had to be Jo.
“I’m going to kill you!” He exclaimed and revved the car chasing after the child.
Simon was found in the swamp the next morning. He had flown through the windshield and lay for hours with a branch threw his head. Somehow he had survived, but doctor’s said the brain damage was so bad that he’d never be able to function or think properly again.
Edgar lived on the edge from then on. He went to priests and prophets and occultics looking for whatever could give him protection from evil spirits. And for a year nothing happened to him. Simon was moved to a home where there were nurses to take care of him. Simon was now conscious but could not communicate and only stared with his tongue sticking out. Edwin was still on life support and the doctor’s were beginning to despair over whether he would ever wake up. To his relief, the executor of estate had not asked too many questions about Jo being at a Swiss boarding school.
Another year passed and Edgar stopped worrying about dying. He had survived whatever had come after them those years ago. Six more years passed and Edgar was living comfortably with the estate. That was when the executor of estate decided to visit and see Jo who he believed had now graduated from his Swiss boarding school. For the first time in years Edgar wondered what he would do. Simon had always been the one with the plan.
As the day grew closet Edgar went to the home to see whether he could get something out of him. Visiting Simon was always depressing for him. His once intelligent,handsome brother being reduced to a drooling, lolling invalid. But lately Simon had been nodding when people talked to him meaning that some of his senses were returning to him.
Instead of asking for a plan, Edgar ended up asking Simon what happened. Simon just looked at him with his tongue out.
“Was it Jo that caused you to crash?” Edgar suddenly felt inspired to ask. Simon just looked at him. “Wink one eye if it’s a no, nod if it’s a yes,” Painstakingly Simon winked his right eye. “Then who was it?” Simon just stared at him. As Edgar was leaving Simon sputtered something that he didn’t hear.
“Whuumhann,” Simon spluttered, his tongue not cooperating. Edgar turned back. Woman? He was happy that Simon was slowly starting to communicate again though. That night Simon was rushed into the ICU because he nearly choked and stopped breathing because of his tongue as he slept. Simon entered a coma.
Edgar started to panic again. What was he going to do? He decided that for now the best he could do was take a bath and soak for a moment. He turned on the radio as he routinely did when he bathed. As he bathed he began to hear a woman’s singing from outside the door.
The next morning Edgar’s dramatic death and confession was all over the news. Edgar had called into a popular radio station frantically saying that they had killed Jo and hidden his death to keep the inheritance. He said he thought that it was Jo’s spirit coming back with the vengeance but it was a woman…the call ended abruptly after a scream. The police had rushed to the mansion to find Edgar dead in the bath tub. The radio had somehow fallen into his bath water and electrocuted him. The police investigation only concluded that he had accidentally pushed it into this water. There were no signs of any other person having been around him. The investigation went further to look for Jo and it didn’t take long for the police to discover that he had never gone to Switzerland. They sent a manhunt over the swamp to search for Jo’s remains but instead came across a boating family that came to the police with an eighteen year old young man. They told the police that eight years ago they had found the young man half dead and barely breathing by the side of the swamp. He couldn’t remember who he was or where he came from when eventually the family had nursed him back to health. After a few tests it was confirmed that the young man was indeed Jo. The night that they found Jo, Edwin woke up.
As Edwin drove that fateful night as his brothers tried to get rid of the body, suddenly there appeared s young girl in the passenger seat. Edwin nearly jumped out the window.
“Calm down,” the girl said,” I’m not here to hurt you. But I’m going to save you a lot of pain and fear. You’ll be asleep for the next eight years until they find Jo again,” Edwin felt a chill run down his spine.
“Who are you?” the girl smiled at him and aged before him until…until it was Jo’s mother. She smiled at him.
“Thank you for watching over Jo,” she mouthed to him as he missed the red light and the truck crashed into him.